Category: Culture


Tonight (Sunday20.05.18) will be the last in Acapulco. Have quite mixed feelings. The three locations that we stayed at were very different. From an initial domicile at the Nilo Hotel, being central, well maintained and in the last two days rather opulent. To fairly challenged accommodation at Pie de la Cuesta, but lovely attitude of our hostess. To a final domicile,  relatively close to Diamante Beach which was an environment, one would say was a little “controlled”, in that we were not give a key to the front gate & some limitations in the use of the air con were in efficacy. The expectation was also that we left the property during the day. One thing was for sure. We spent far too long in Acapulco. One week would have been fine.

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Twin en suite at Casa de Pemaroche run by Marina & Roman a Swiss couple who with their respective partners have engaged with a new project…….in the sun!

Got on the road to Puerto Escondido at 22:00pm. Arrived at 06:00am the following day Monday 22.05.18. The bus termini, are largely well maintained and orderly. Took a taxi out to our Airbnb accommodation at Casa de Pemaroche in Brisas de Zicatela run by a Swiss couple, Marina & partner Peter. Marina & her brother (Roman back in Switzerland) had decided to purchase and refurbish the property along with their respective partners. The accommodation here is so peaceful & the owners, so welcoming that we’re extending another week. The well maintained swimming pool is also a huge “pull” as are the loungers in this sun soaked part of the country.

On UK news, I have become increasingly more pessimistic of us ever divesting ourselves of the infernal EU & its unelected arrogant apparatchiks. May & Hammond continue to disappoint. The “shadowy” Olly Robbins also does not inspire confidence, and of course all three of those aforementioned individuals are “dyed in the wool” Remainers. The Civil Service appears to be patently “underperforming” and engaged in “foot dragging” like recalcitrant “Sir Humphrey’s.”

Always smiling, always happy.

Lying by the pool yesterday, a lizard about a foot and a half long fell from the roof gutter of the property at Pemaroche with a thump. Obviously, had dozed off,  rolled out, and plummeted 15 feet to the pathway below. It got up, looking a little dazed & bewildered, then just ambled off. Meanwhile, our “Mr. Happy,” eternally good natured & enigmatic pool ball, floats around, a slave to the capricious whims of the surface breeze.

“Casa de Pemaroche” in Puerto Escondido. Pool, Shade, Shower, Mr Happy Pool ball & a couple of Garden Lizards that visit occasionally.

Have now extended a further week here, which is indicative of how comfortable we deem the accommodation & our hosts to be. The Brisas de Zicatela coastline & beaches are simply wonderful though bathing in the sea can be challenging along this section as the waves are “heavy.”

We’ve kind of made a prospective idealised route from Mexico through to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua which we may / may not stick to. I guess we will be guided by what opportunities present themselves.

Proposed route down through central America.

Sadly we were only issued with a 90 day visa at the immigration counter in Mexico City, (although the immigration officer did scrawl 120 days on the card.) It’s doubtful whether that would hold up to scrutiny should immigration choose to become pernickety. Unless we extend, we need to be out of Mexico and into Belize by the 09.07.18.

We were fairly ambivalent about visiting the Yucatan peninsula as that would imply going through Cancun, which holds no attraction. Oaxaca  lies inland, and promises to be a culturally satisfying experience. Disconcertingly, a volcano in Guatemala called Fuego exploded into fiery action a couple of days ago. Sadly 62 have lost their lives in the pyroclastic flow that engulfed them.

 

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20.04.18  Monday will be headed out of  town north for a change of domicile tomorrow. The Nilo Hotel, here in Acapulco has been an excellent place to relax since coming down from Mexico City. Roof top pool and bar, huge bed (8’x8′).

22.04.18 Surprise…Surprise….for my birthday! Lynn has arranged an upgrade to the Penthouse Apartment in Nilo Hotel.

Private elevator for ones exclusive use, with views over the rooftop pool and the city beyond. My oh my….enormous bed, self contained kitchen and dining room with vistas through a convex shaped plate glass window over to the other side of the city & a couple of bottles of Argentinian Merlot to be imbibed, at leisure. Later will be going out to a favourite restaurant, “Questa Pasta.”

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Questa Pasta….mmmmm.

22.04.18 Sunday: The elevator to our room made a mechanical click as it came to rest at 09:00am this morning. The maid came out apologising profusely as she had woken us both up from deep slumber with a Moet Chandon Champaign Breakfast tray and a mixture of cakes, cheeses, grapes & biscuits!

Late afternoon, took a taxi to Mondo Imperial Hotel about half an hour down the coast for afternoon Brunch. The Bucks Fizz kept flowing and the steaks were enormous rib eye specials. Came back stuffed and spent the rest of the evening in the roof top pool.

 

23.04.18 Will be headed north west of the city about 25 klm for a week Air BnB stay at Pie de la Cuesta on Monday. Then, subsequently headed south to a little town called Puerto Escondido.

25.04.18 This evening will be going to see the Cliff Divers at La Quebrada Acapulco. Their fame & notoriety spread worldwide following the 1963 Elvis Presley film Fun in Acapulco. However, it was in 1934 that Raoul Garcia, brought the phenomenon to local public attention. Apparently as evening draws in they take to diving with lit torches!

 

Zonked for  24 hours, to recover from “Jet Lag”  The usual headache, and lethargy, plus stuffed up nose and sore throat. So did absolutely nothing today. However,  managed to drag myself out of bed on Wednesday for a “mooch” around downtown Mexico City. First impressions were generally positive with a good “vibe” around the old city centre, squares and thoroughfares.

 

Mexicans tend to smile easily and are helpful. There seems to be a huge prevalence of small shops and artisanal establishments conducting their business in a frenzied cadence of business activity. The “Mall” type shopping environment does not appear to have made its presence felt, as yet.However, one does notice a huge Police and uniformed Security presence in  “downtown” areas, perhaps indicative of a thriving subculture. Mexico has a population of 120 million people, of which around 9 million live in Mexico City.

12.04.18 Travelled NE of Mexico City to an ancient pyramid complex Teotihuacan. The Pyramid of the Sun is the largest building in the Teotihuacan complex, which is believed to have been constructed about 200 BC, and one of the largest in Mesoamerica. I subsequently read that weirdly, the Sun Pyramid is aligned perfectly along a line of axis of 33 degrees with the Pyramid at Giza in Egypt to the horizontal plane! Furthermore, that the Great Pyramid at Giza  aligned with the three brightest stars in Orion’s Belt eighteen days before 12.21.12. People were predicting all kinds of cataclysms,….but nothing happened. So all nonsense, I guess.

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Perseus slaying of Medusa (Dali).

Visited a Salvador Dali static al fresco exhibition. The classic Melting Watch was in evidence, as was the Slaying of Medusa. Both beautifully executed and delightful to see.

14.04.18 Meandered down town and came across a bijou Sushi restaurant called Ah Un in Calle Motolinia, Centro Historico. Apparently they do great cocktails, however, I stuck to a house red Merlot and Sushi.

Headed down to Acapulco tomorrow. Should get there mid afternoon.

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Acapulco Bay hotels.

15.04.18 Mexico City lies on a high central plateau, altitude 7249ft above sea level. One is really unaware of the altitude until one makes the 6 hours trip by road to the coast. It is a constant descent through scrubland, deep red rift valley redzina and hair pin bends. Got into Acapulco at 14:00 pm. Checked in at the Nilo Hotel.

17.04.18 Spent the day sunbathing around the rooftop pool in C30 temperatures, and the tan is deepening.

Left Negombo (suburb of Colombo) at 09:00 am and quickly got into the hinterland and lush green forests bush of the Sri Lankan low country. Travelling ENE to a place called Kandy, where lies the site of Bhudda’s Tooth Temple. On the way we stopped at an elephant sanctuary where a herd happened to be in the river Ma Oya for their daily paddle. Later, drove onwards to a Spice gardens, Botanical gardens and subsequently a gemstone museum. After arriving at  Kandy and settling in to the accommodation, went out for an evening at the heritage centre where, an ethnic dance production took place. 20.12.17 Headed south to Nuwaraeliya district and tea country.Temperatures are now considerably warmer with the drop in altitude from 1868m down to the coast. Lush green landscapes now give way to coastal scrub redzina plateau.25.12.17 Mirissa Beach Christmas Day and it’s clear blue sky & C32. Christmas Eve had a meal at Mirrisa Eye beach restaurant and were treated to a beautiful sunset.There is something quite magical about a Bermuda rigged vessel appearing from around a headland in the evening light when the shadows are long and the sun sparkles on the waves.

This shot I guess, is about feet doing what feet do on a beachfront.

Will be headed north back to the capital Colombo on Monday 08.01.18. Will pick up a flight to Kuala Lumpur 11.01.18, then a connection on to Australia.

Thursday 07.12.17 Arrived Budapest from Iceland  at 20:10 and got into Airbnb accommodation lying just a couple of hundred metres from the Danube river at about 22.00. Nora, our young hostess was there to greet us, provided keys and ran through her protocols before we got our heads down after a tiring day. However, the evening views of the floodlit castle, church and turrets on the Buda side of the Danube were just glorious. The primary reason for this third visit to the Hungarian capital was for further dental work, as the prices here are very competitive compared to the UK.Wednesday 13.12.17 caught the 100e out of Town and to Liszt Ferenc Airport. Got to Qatar at 16:05 on the 13.12.17 and hung around waiting for an Qatar Airways transfer to Colombo, Sri Lanka. Arrived Colombo 16:04…The ensuing three hours could best be described as analogous to spending time in a washing machine. Interminable time wasted at being processed by immigration, the luggage conveyor belt breaking down, causing further delay. Then the wait for our shuttle transfer picking us from the mêlée outside the airport.Finally got to bed at 21:30 and sank into a twelve hour blissful sleep.

Chari our host at Sun Star City hostel (never knowingly undersold) in Negombo is a delightful guy. Courteous and ever so accommodating, is knowledgeable and diligent in his determination to facilitate our enjoyment of our time in Sri Lanka.

16.12.17 Out and about today. Small tour around town, a boat ride around part of the huge lagoon, visit to the Dutch C18th canal lined by rustic fishermen’s cottages, then the rest of the afternoon sunbathing on Negombo beach.Negombo lagoonCaught a local bus back from the coast and was entertained by a group of youths beating out a rhythm and singing at the back of the bus.Decided to eat at a local “restaurant” on my walk back to the Guest House.Have never had the experience of eating a meal with two spoons before! The waiter, assured me with a broad smile that, “No sir, this is no mistake, this is normal” rocking his head vigorously from side to side, in traditional Indo/Sri Lankan fashion.
Have decided to take a private tour around the island.Will travel north to Kandi and spend 2 nights,then over to Nawarallia for a further 2 nights followed by 1 night each at Ella and Yala. The plan then is to have some beach time on the south coast at Merissa and getting back to Negombo around the 08.01.18

Landed to a grey Manchester morning at 11:55 14.11.17. Picked up a hire car and got to Middleton, where my sister in law kindly put us up. The wedding, to which we had been invited was to take place on Sunday 19.11.17

Got to Iceland on the evening of 21.11.17.Came out for a walk along the coastal path. Sub zero temperature (C-1) but wind chill took it down to -6. Got round the headland and into the relative shelter of the bay and then made it to a cafe selling warm “Pulser” and cold beer. Pricey though, the bill came to £16.00p. The beer alone was £6.50!

Mums birthday Saturday 25.11.17, so we are off out for a celebration lunch at Gardskàlinn in Kopavogur.

Will be heading out to Budapest on the 05.12.17 where I’ve got a dental appointment not far from the banks of the Danube.

Thought at one stage that the late arrival in KL of the flight from Bangkok DMK to KUL 09.08.17 would obviate the connection to Oz. However, made it with time to spare. Landed nine hours later on a beautiful, cloudless Friday morning on The Gold Coast. Number 1 daughter and grand daughter came out to pick us up.

Day after day after day…….clear blue skies & bright sunshine. Temperatures are steadily increasing also, to C24 with an occasional leap to C30, and back down again to C25. On the news, I noticed that a report from Melbourne in the south, people were still wearing top coats and sweaters, invoking re – realization how there is much cooler weather there, and just how big Australia is!

Took Amelie to “Baby Rhyme Time” at the local library. Have noticed that the numbers attending are steadily increasing as the half hourly sessions bring parents and children in for a sing song and social. Also went for a walk around a beautiful man made lake adjacent to the Coomera river. It is utterly enchanting doing the walk with a child as they notice & pick up on lots of things that “grown ups” just pass by. Like the wind rustling leaves, birds in flight, the fragrances of woodland, flowers, freshly cut grass, flickering sun light coming through leaves of trees. On the way back called at Dan Murphy’s for a few “tinnies” & crisps.

Baby Rhyme Time at Coomera Library.

Last weekend,Fri 08.09.17 went down to Sydney to see number two daughter and hubby for a visit. Walked down to Bondi Beach to stretch our legs and came across a kite competition along the beach. Pitched up at the North Bondi RSL club for a drink and a snack with great views along Bondi Beach.

North Bondi RSL Club.

Seems bizarre that we are headed toward Christmas, a period within which “summertime” temperatures will be in the mid C30’s!

Friday 21.10.17 Down to Sydney to see #2 daughter for a quick flying visit. Also a party to celebrate a birthday and 1st skydive that a friend had undertaken. Then back up to Coomera on Sunday afternoon.

Headed out from Coomera to Singapore on 03.11.17.  Will spend a few days here, no doubting a visit to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel. Saw the Light Show set to music  on the lagoon, not far from The Sands for the first time. Impressive!

05.11.17 Krabi (Thailand) Got a transfer to Popeye Guest House and  walked down a familiar road to the beach, where one notes that they had completed the paved area promenade to the left. Unfortunately the “fish tail” boat engine noise was still a subliminal irritation as they ferried never ending groups of tourists to Railay Beach around the headland. All that being said, it will be pleasant relaxing in the sun for a week topping up the tan.

11.11.17 Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) Arrived at 10:50am after an early departure from Krabi & and a one and a half hour flight south. Always a pleasure going back to Malaysia as people are so courteous and pleasant to deal with. Will stay for two nights at Submarine G/H before taking a flight out to Doha early in the morning. From Doha will grab a connection back to Manchester.   

 

 

 

 

Took a 10-hour executive overnight coach down from Bangkok to Ko Samui. Inclusive transfer by boat for an hour and a half trip over to the island and taxi ride to the Relax Hotel at Cheng Mon for a total cost of £20.60p per person, I count that as a bargain

Now, just waiting for the weather to improve. Came south with the hope of getting some sunshine, however, the last couple of days have been overcast with occasional rain.

Well goodness me..the weather didn’t disappoint! It’s a consistent C30 & clear blue skies day after day.

26.07.17 The weather has improved and the sun seems to be showing through the cloud much more regularly than hitherto.Hired a moped and went for a mooch around the island. Found a pretty little village located on the north side called Fisherman’s Cove, ( I guess that is a contrived name for the benefit of the tourists).

Made an appointment at a Dentist as a crown needs replacing. Should get it done for around Baht 8000 (£182).

02.08.17 Wednesday Down to the beach again today. The tan has come on really well with all the good weather we have been having. Only a short time left here as we will be making way back to Bangkok on Sunday for a couple of days. Then it is out to Brisbane to see our grand daughter.

The 7 hour overnight trip out to Inle Lake from Bagan deprived us of the sight of the lush Burmese jungles through which we passed. We arrived at around 04:30 whilst still dark. However, the proprietor was kind enough to open the gate and let us in early. After a late start we “mooched” around the town of Nyaungshwe to orientate ourselves. We negotiated a price for a day out on the lake for the following day from an itinerate Street fixer, then went back to our hostel (The Aquarius).

Tending the “Floating Tomatoe” plantation

The fast & narrow fish tail boat with boatmen for 16000 kyats (£9.25) from Nyaungshwe to the Ywama village on the other side of the lake about an hour away was a bargain. We stopped on the way to see a huge floating farm cultivating tomato & cucumber.

Ywama village was hugely interesting. Visiting various artisan establishments producing fabrics made from locally sourced silks, cotton and plants from which fine fibres were drawn spun and made into the fabric from which a variety of garments were made. Silver and Gold were also sourced locally from which jewellery was fashioned. A cigar factory where cigars, cigarillos and stogies were hand rolled from locally sourced leaf.

 

Handloom weaving…Amazing…effective simplicity.

Gliding around the village by boat minded one of other water borne environments that we had visited previously in the Mekong Delta in Cambodia. It is a privilege to meet and greet such a gentle, always smiling people.

The fishermen on Inle Lake have a novel, yet thoroughly practical way of using their feet to manipulate their fishing basket.

 

Friday 13.07.17 Headed south on the 10 am bus to Yangon. This time the beauty of the Burmese jungle did not escape us as our transport twisted sinuously down from the highlands to the low country. Utterly enchanting vistas. The trip south took 12 hours, and the taxi ride in from Yangon station another hour. Checked back in at Shannkaley hostel around eight in the evening.Lovely smiles of recognition from the hostel staff as we bowled through the door. Got settled down and promptly fell into a deep slumber.

Dexterous use of hands & feet in the process of fishing on Lake Inle.

Caught the 11:00 am flight out of Yangon back to Bangkok.
After having some reservations prior to going to Myanmar, I am so glad that I did. So much pleasure derived from meeting such a gentle courteous and helpful people. A countryside, (particularly in the mountainous jungle of the NE) that is utterly beautiful.
Will be headed south from Bangkok Friday 14.07.17 to spend some time on an island off the SE coast of the Thai peninsula

Arrived by train back in Bangkok from Vientiane to Nong Kai (after some problems with the ticket issued to us in Vientiane Laos) for a two-night “lay-over”. This, as a precursor to flying out to Myanmar from Don Mueang airport (one of the two airports serving Bangkok).
Arrived Yangon, Myanmar Sunday 18.06.17 at 10:05 am after an hours flight from Bangkok. First impressions, people very friendly and helpful. Taxi ride downtown to ShannKalay Hostel cost 11000.00 kyats (£12.60). After a small sleep took a walk down by the harbour and market area. Lots of old colonial buildings in various states of repair/disrepair, in a myriad of designs from Art Deco, Roman neoclassical, Gothic, and post-modernist vernacular.

Anyone need a hat!

Seems such a shame that those buildings that really do need saving suffer from a lack of funds. However, hopefully, as the economy opens further perhaps more inward investment may be forthcoming. Have been out for some “Street Food” (a little iffy but OK), then at a local restaurant, which was quite busy, (always a good sign). Visited Aung San Suu Kyi’s front gate (where she endured “house arrest”). Visited the “Reclining Buddha”, all 200 feet of her then took a taxi ride around town for four hours looking at various points of interest. Took a walk in the park on a decidedly “dodgy” wooden promenade. Unfortunately, twenty minutes in, the heavens opened and got absolutely soaked to the skin.

Covered quite some ground over the past month or so.

Wednesday 24.06.17 Took a bus for a five-hour ride over to the West coast and the Andaman sea to a town called Ngwesaung, where we checked in at “Hill Top” a small hostel with twelve traditional wooden chalet type buildings. We are now in “rainy season” so the place is fairly deserted and it rains most every day but then brightens. Breakfast and evening meal is provided however, one has to get used to the “house” cat strolling nonchalantly across the table and ants busying themselves with whatever ants tend to do whilst evening meals are consumed quickly as the midges feed themselves on ones ankles, where those “juicy” blood vessels lie close to the surface. The various resort hotels in Ngwesaung are all shut for the rainy season however, one can see that the environment is slowly being developed into a “go to” seaside location for both indigenous people and foreign visitors.
02.07.17The Green Dragon bus company provided a relatively new(ish) Higer bus which barrelled along the narrow roads back from the coast. First twisting and turning around hairpin bends, then slowing to squeeze past other, slower road users with the judicious use of horn and braking systems.We crossed several rivers of varying sizes on bridges constructed either from concrete or wood. Those constructed of wood creaked & groaned disconcertingly as the bus made a passage. The journey continued, passing acre upon acre of rice paddy fields, fish farms and the occasional grazing water buffalo, our progress took us through small village environments where the cadences of daily life played out. A man transporting his 14-foot canoe on his bicycle accompanied by and sometimes engulfed by a variety of geese, goats, dogs and itinerate traders bearing their wares bound for markets and roadside pitches. Young boys, who otherwise should have been in school (one assumes), carrying large bundles of wood on their heads to some ill-defined destination. All this is seen fleetingly as the bus “ghosts” in and then out of these various tableaux.
03.07.17Once more we found ourselves on a bus again following an overnight stay at ShannKalay Guest House in Yangon.(It never ceases to amaze me how far out of town Bus Stations are in Myanmar. Sometimes driving by taxi for an hour and a half out of town, just to get to it!)

Stupas are round. Temples have a square footprint. There are many hundreds of them throughout the area.

At 21:00 we got on board for a 9-hour overnight journey north to the city of Mandalay. Bus stations (to a stranger), seem like a chaotic “madhouse” of feverish & chaotic activity. However, it all seems to work reasonably well, and we find ourselves ensconced in a rather nice Swedish built Scania Vabis Executive coach with A/C, fully reclining, comfortable seats, onboard seat back t.v. sets with a choice of films in most languages. There are also snacks and drinks on offer.09.07.17 Mandalay seems overwhelmed with temples and stupa of varying sizes and styles.The town is fairly spread out and has a walled “Citadel” which the army appears to be used as a barracks. Only stopping a couple of nights then another coach trip south to a town called Bagan lying on the Irrawaddy river.

Most every woman and child seems to have a predisposition to paint their faces. Now whether this started out as “sun protection” & ended up being quite fashionable, I know not. Quite unusual though.

Though a rather dusty place, it has a vibrancy and development is taking place very quickly as the economy opens up to enterprise and irrepressible entrepreneurs.08.07.17 Inle LakeArrived here in the early hours (04:30) and got into town by Tuk Tuk as the bus station was some distance from town. However, the night watchman woke at our calling and kindly let us in. It was still dark.

A lady of the Kayan tribe who inhabit an area in NE east Burma close to the Thai border

Women of the Kayan Lahwi tribe are well known for wearing neck rings, brass coils that are placed around the neck, appearing to lengthen it.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s due to conflict with the military regime in Myanmar, many Kayan tribes fled to the Thai border area.[3] Among the refugee camps set-up, there was a Long Neck section, which became a tourist site, self-sufficient on tourist revenue and not needing financial assistance.

Tomorrow will take a native boat trip around Inle Lake to visit some villages, Stupas, watching fisherman at their labours and a visit a floating tomato farm which are plentiful around this area of the country.

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